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A Baltimore-based foundation analyzing the local workforce says apprenticeships are critical to decreasing youth unemployment, and highlighted General Assembly legislation designed to establish a youth training program.

A report released by the Abell Foundation, formed in 1953 by officials of the former publisher of the Sun, said in Baltimore only one in five public school graduates matriculates to a four-year college and 16 to 19-year-olds have an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent.

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The report, released Thursday, recommends youth apprenticeship that would enhance student engagement, improve job skills and provide direct links to careers.

"For too many young people, particularly low-income young people, engagement in high school is low, work-ready skills are scarce and work experience is limited," said Robert Embry, president of the Abell Foundation.

"Youth apprenticeship is a proven model to increase youth employment and develop a highly-skilled workforce," Embry said. "Youth apprenticeship programs operate successfully in Georgia and Wisconsin, as well as in Canada and certain European countries. Research suggests that a youth apprenticeship program in Baltimore could be equally successful."

Last month, the foundation released a report that said while more good-paying jobs are coming to the Baltimore region in health care, information technology, transportation and bioscience, area community colleges are not doing enough to prepare Baltimore residents for the jobs.

The new report noted a bill in the General Assembly that will establish an apprenticeship program called Apprenticeships Maryland beginning the summer of next year. The legislation, which was passed with amendments, would require state education, labor and licensing officials to develop criteria to select school systems for participation.

The study also recommended researching how child labor laws could affect the pilot internship program and developing a financing plan for the pilot.

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